To the Manor going as farmgate house awaits new tenant

Manor Farm Girton

As one door closes, another is shortly to open. The county council is finalising plans for a new tenant for Manor Farm, Girton. The photo was taken on January 30, 2022. - Credit: John Elworthy

Manor Farm – at the centre of the farmgate probe – may finally get a new tenant.  

Cambridgeshire County Council was handed back the house and nine-acre tenancy after former deputy leader Roger Hickford quit.  

The house was advertised last April as coming with “a three-bedroom house and a multi-purpose building, both recently refurbished”. 

Last April the council confirmed that “full adverts will be in Farmer’s Weekly on April 16 and then booked in Cambridge Times, Cambridge Independent, Fenland Gazette the following week.  

“Adverts will also be on our Facebook page from 16th too.” 

On January 31, a county council spokesperson – quizzed as to why it remained empty – said: “As you know it has already been advertised, there has been a lot of interest in the tenancy  

“We are hoping to conclude discussions with interested parties shortly, leading to the award of a new tenancy as soon as possible.” 

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Publication of the long-awaited report – that has become known as farmgate – into the circumstances under which the original tenancy to Cllr Hickford was granted is yet to be published.  

Councillors have been advised to await the findings of a separate investigation by officers into whether there should first be action taken under the council’s code of conduct into former Cllr Hickford.  

That report will now be presented – in confidence – to the constitution and ethics committee of the council on February 25.  

If, as expected, councillors agree the conduct report will be published the same day.  

The pressure will then be maintained to release the findings of the main audit committee commissioned report that remains under wraps for fear of legal repercussions.  

Seven other holdings on the council’s farms estate have recently been advertised. 

The properties, which comprise a total of 1,800 acres, are located across the county at Cottenham, Landbeach (x2), Littleport, Whittlesford, Wisbech and Wisbech St Mary.  

Potential tenants will be required to produce a three-year budget and business plan as part of their application. 

The holdings open to tender on 28 February 2022.  

Council leader Lucy Nethsingha said: “These farms, some of which haven’t been available for a number of years, are suitable for a range of farming systems.  

“They offer the opportunity for tenants to create a successful business and family home with the flexibility to support sustainable farming for the long term.”